Sunday, September 26, 2010

Passion over ‘One rank, one pension’

Retired defence forces officers and other ranks have great amount of resentment and indignation, if not outright anger, against the government’s niggardliness on the matter of ‘one rank, one pension’, that is, one uniform scale of pension for a particular rank of officers (or other ranks) whether they retired last month or thirty years ago. Today, the situation is that an officer who had retired some years back gets a pension much lower than his counterpart of the same rank retiring now. This is iniquitous because both the officers rendered the same kind of service to the nation. Not able to tolerate this any more, twenty thousand retired soldiers have returned their service medals to the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, the president of India. This naturally has cast a long shadow on the morale of the hundreds of thousands serving officers and other ranks in all the three defence forces, something which the government and people of India can ill afford. What galls these ex-soldiers further is the fact that all retired officers of the Indian Administrative Service get the same pension irrespective of their dates of retirement.

However, in their deep hurt the ex-soldiers forget that there are millions of non-IAS civilian government and public retirees who are in the same boat as they, their levels of pension also depend on when they retired; the earlier they did the lesser pension they get. It is unfortunate and against elementary logic because the older retirees, ex-soldiers or civilians, are more susceptible to disease and infirmity and, therefore, need higher regular income, in the form of pension, to be able to pay for their treatment than their younger counterparts. The older people also suffer from another handicap – their non-pension retrial benefits like provident fund even if invested in interest-earning bank deposits have smaller current values than such benefits to the people retiring now.

If the government thinks the current agitation by ex-soldiers is a passing phase, it is fooling none other than itself. There is a real chance, on the other hand, that millions of the non-IAS civilian retirees will join the ex-soldiers in demanding one pension for one rank. Before that happens and it becomes impossible for the government to hold its present position, it should, in good grace, rationalise the things across the board by raising pensions of the old retirees of a particular rank, ex-soldier or not, to the level of the pension of those of the same rank retiring presently. No doubt, this will result into an extra burden on the exchequer, presently, say, of Rupees thirty thousand crore, but it will be a burden worth bearing in the interest of equity and justice and welfare of the people who had given the best years of their lives to the service of the nation. This gesture on the part of the government will be appreciated by the serving officers and other ranks, military and civil, because ultimately they would retire and then be benefited by ‘one rank, one pay’.

After instituting ‘one rank, one pension’, the government can reduce its incremental outgo of funds on account of paying salaries and pensions by lowering slabs of dearness allowance, for instance, instead of fully compensating the retired and serving personnel for inflation the government could compensate them for only 50% of inflation. This could save the government about ten thousand crore rupees in the first year and larger and larger amounts in subsequent years. And the serving and retired employees would accept this because it would be absolutely non-discriminatory. Moreover, the government employees, serving or retired, military or civilian, do understand and appreciate the fact that more than ninety per cent population of this country is outside the government or the organized sector and they have no one to compensate them by even 1% of the level of inflation.


  1. I am afraid that you too have not understood the crux of the problem but have, unfortunately, simplified it to the ridiculous extreme!

    An Armed Forces veteran (96% of them) retires at the approximate age of 35 to 37 -- and hence, sees possibly just two Pay Commissions. And lives through another FOUR before reaching an age of 75 -- if we assume that to be the average longevity of Indian males. Whereas, the civilian stays in the service till age 60 at least and thus sees at least another three PCs and benefits from them.

    As such, the civilian is liable to see just the one PC before reaching the age of 75!

    And, in any case -- what "ranks" are you trying to speak of in the civilians? They do NOT have ranks!! So, how do they ask for OROP?

    Finally, you too have totally missed out on the element that is there in the OROP demand: One rank, one length of service, one pension!

    Mr Jaswal, are you really qualified to talk of all this?

  2. I will give you an example. Take a case of two young men 20 yrs old. One joins army and becomes a soldier and other joins any service say police or becomes LDC in any Govt office. Now if both live till the age of 75 which is the norm in India, then the man who has joined as constable/LDC will earn 47 lacs more than the soldier who had faced enemy bullets, stood alone guarding our border at icy peaks and had lived away from family for 3/4 of his service.Similar Gap exists for all ranks. And I am not talking about the other under the table perks which police and civil service claim as their right . This is because the soldier is forced to retire at the age of 37 yrs and got pay revision of only one pay commission and two in case he is very lucky. Accordingly his pension is fixed at lower rate as per his last pay drawn. On the other hand a constable/LDC has got pay revision in four pay commissions till the age of 60, and his pension is fixed at higher rate as per his last pay drawn which is atleast six to seven times higher than the soldier. The soldier, who had been forced to retire at the prime of his life when he had maximum responsibilities of his family of growing children and aged parents, is at a distinct disadvantage as compared to other services for choosing a service to die for his country and giving up his fundamental rights. There can be no comparison between the two services that is armed forces and other services and hence the OROP for armed forces to compensate for this loss of income and in many case death and loss of limbs.
    Government should graciously grant OROP for the armed forces and show that it cares for armed forces.
    Call it Military pension and keep it distinct and separate from civil pensions.

  3. Perhaps my post lacked in clarity, I will, therefore be more lucid this time. Let’s take the case of two retired Lance Naiks A and B; A had retired in 1979 and B in 2009, both at the age of 39 after 20 years of service. Because of his much smaller last pay drawn (on which the pension is calculated) in 1979, today A gets a basic pension of Rs.2,000, including all enhancements since his retirement, plus applicable Dearness Allowance. B, because of implementation of 3 or 4 Pay Commision reports between 1979 and 2009, retired in 2009 at a much higher basic pay and consequently draws now a basic pension of Rs.9,000 plus D.A. at its 45%.

    I want that this difference should go and that A should also get exactly the same amount of basic pension and D.A. as B, because both of them had rendered the same service to the nation for exactly the same number of years. And on all subsequent pay and pension revisions under Pay Commissions yet to come, both A and B should get automatic raise in their basic pension to put it at par with that applicable to Lance Naiks with 20 years of service retiring at that time in future. And I want likewise for retired defence personnel of all ranks, officers or others.

    That defence personnel, other ranks than officers, retire very early - even below the age of 40, is a different issue and can be addressed to by reserving opportunities for them for lateral entry into the police and para-military forces. The academically or technically qualified among them can also be preferentially inducted into the corporates, public and private. In addition, ex-soldiers are valued in the ever burgeoning private security services. Thinking out of the box – since the average 45 year old today is physically fitter and healthier than the average 40 year old of 1990, the age of retirement for other than officers rank can safely be increased by five years without compromising the operational efficiency and preparedness of the armed forces.

    By a rank among the civilians I had meant all who had retired from a particular post, say of director in the Union government.

    Lastly, to Seekay : Yes, you may say that I am not qualified but when the eminently qualified have failed to reconcile the two positions, as if they were etched in stone, the unqualified but concerned, like me, should step forward and make sincere efforts.